How can we work together to tackle the digital divide?

With lots of everyday services moving online, from healthcare to shopping, access to technology is becoming vital to our day-to-day lives. But some in society face major challenges when trying to access the world online.

In the UK it’s estimated that 16.3 million adults lack core digital skills, and 1.9 million homes have no access to the internet – meaning there is a whole section of society which needs support to ensure they can access the opportunities presented by the digital world.

The digital divide has always existed but has become more evident in the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic forced big changes to parts of our lives. In order to bridge the divide, people need access to three key things: equipment, connectivity and skills.

Currently, charities up and down the country are working to ensure everyone has access to technology. CityFibre has worked to support this, partnering with charities including The Hive, a digital library which loans equipment to those that need it, and Donate Digital, which upgrades and redistributes donated equipment.

A device is just the beginning – a reliable internet connection is vital to accessing online services. CityFibre is investing up to £4 billion to bring the best connectivity – Full Fibre – within reach of up to eight million homes, 800,000 businesses and 400,000 public sector sites.

We are also working to ensure that people have the skills and confidence to use technology. CityFibre has supported numerous Introduction to Games Design courses across Yorkshire, partnering with local company Insight2Games, and have been a firm supporter of Leeds Digital Festival for many years.  We are also supporting the next generation, working with coding workshops to help young people and their families develop technology skills in partnership with Leeds Libraries.

Our Full Fibre networks also support the development of skills, as a reliable and fast connection ensures that people have a good experience online, encouraging them to explore technology and make full use of the opportunities it brings.

Our investment into community-wide Full Fibre networks is an important step in getting more people online, but there is lots we can do as individuals too. Don’t throw out your old technology – donate it to charity; and If you see someone struggling, support them to get online. This will make sure that as we move into a new, more digital world, no-one gets left behind.